Home For The Holidays: Advice From RCAH Seniors

November 17, 2023

  • A remarkably empathetic and realistic advice column
  • Lighthearted remarks from RCAH’s own
  • Warm words of reassurance, encouragement, and illumination

By Jess Watley 27

With the holidays approaching, this is a time to reconnect with family and friends, which is exciting! However, as the year comes to a close, it is a time for both reflection and forecasting. 

With that reflection on life, having come home from a new environment, you may have a bit of news for your family. 

Going home to family isn’t the most pleasant thing for all people. Some have love-hate relationships with them—that deep sense of contentment amid adversity. Others are lucky enough to have a close-knit household. Coming home with news is scary. Regardless of the home you’re returning to, our experienced student body has you covered. 

I’ve spoken with seniors here in RCAH graduating this semester asking them what advice they had for students delivering news to tell their family this holiday season.

Ryan Newcomb (he/him), a 4th year senior here at RCAH wants you to know your family will still love you above all else.

“It’s difficult because I know every student has a different home life and sometimes a difficult relationship with family… I’m lucky to have a close family that allows me to share things with them openly,” Ryan relays. 

“But I’d advise anyone to take in just being with your family. Take advantage of holiday happiness, and once you begin bonding with them, giving that sort of news will feel easier. They don’t stop being your family once you realize something about your identity because you’re you, and you’re not going to change who you are because they don’t like it,” Ryan shares with affinity. 

You know your family best, and not all families will react the same way to life-changing news.

5th year senior, Ren Hauler (they/them), suggests that it is nobody’s business.  

“You can totally tell them everything that’s going on in your life. The three main spheres: academics, social, but also something you’re looking forward to,” Ren recommends. “They’re going to ask you questions, but I do want to acknowledge that you are the only one living your life 24/7, so if you don't want to share, you don’t have to,” they add. 

“Family and friends are a great part of your life, but you don’t need to tell them everything. For me, coming to terms with who I am has been so rewarding! I thought to myself, ‘This is going to change my college experiencethis sense of belonging has made me better understand what I wanted my entire college career to be.” 

Ren gets personal about their gender identity and what owning that looks like. 

“I personally cannot come out to my family, so feeling that peace here in RCAH and the community has been good for me. I have other people in my life that I can share those things with, so what I share with my family is those people. But if protecting your peace looks like not coming out about a part of your identity, then don’t.” 

“If you share the things you’re really personal about, that’s what they really care about. I go home and talk about my work in the Community Engagement pathway because it’s something I do that I love. That’s really all they care about. Your family just wants to know how you’re doing,” they close. 

There is reassurance in realizing that your life is yours and yours alone, so none of the outside noise matters. The real beauty lies in self-discovery. 

Ava Bennett (she/they), a 4th year senior in RCAH reminds us of what’s important. We all want a break from school, but if going home feels like adding more obligations to your plate, it may be time to set some boundaries. Ava tells us about it.

“Well first, home life can be hard. Be kind to yourself—if you don’t want to go home, you don’t have to… I know that as a queer student, there are expectations with family that you may not meet," they exclaim. 

“I’ve been honest with mine. I told them, ‘Hey, I’m queer.’ I had no other specific identity other than that to which I identify, and luckily they were supportive of me. Working up the courage to be able to study those things and learning about them is so empowering, and you don’t want to hide who you are when you go home.” 

“You can 1000% not say anything at all if you don’t feel comfortable, but if you do then you should do that,” Bennett concludes. 

Make an effort to enjoy the holiday season as it unfolds. The most essential thing is to be glad to return home to loved ones.  This holiday, we might not be the ones with problems. Listening to others could be beneficial to us as well. Whether it's a toddler asking you questions or a distant cousin ranting, there's an implicit understanding that this is about humanity. I assure you that everything will be okay.